STAFF REVIEW of Lost Grimoires 2: Shard of Mystery (Xbox One)

Friday, January 26, 2018.
by Adam Dileva

Lost Grimoires 2: Shard of Mystery Box art If there’s one company that’s fulfilled a specific niche, Artifex Mundi sure has done so by bringing casual HOGs (hidden object games) to the Xbox One in droves. For about two years now they’ve been bringing their backlog, and some new titles, to the console, which I initially didn’t think would work well, but they seem to fit, as sitting on the couch with a controller in hand, solving some puzzles at a casual pace works. This time around we get the sequel to Lost Grimoires, aptly titled Lost Grimoires 2: Shard of Mystery. If you’ve previously played one of their titles then you’ll know exactly what to expect; a journey filled with mystery, fantasy adventure, twists and a whole bunch if puzzles to solve.

While technically a sequel to the first title, I failed to find many ties between the two, aside from the King that was in the first game and you playing another alchemist. The King’s alchemists crafted a Chasm Mirror, used to banish the evil witch Drosera into another dimension. The King’s health is starting to fail though, so he begins to prepare his son, Prince Fern, to take over the throne. On the day of his coronation he goes missing, and it’s up to you to find him and solve what has happened.

Like other titles in the genre, the story really isn’t the main showcase here, as it is filled with fantasy tropes and beautiful backgrounds for you to explore. Luckily you don’t need to have played the first game to make sense of this one, as the hook to these games is all about the gameplay and its puzzles.

Gameplay is much like any of the previous titles, as you’re searching scenes for items and clues that can be used elsewhere. You move your cursor around and you can point and click certain objects. Some will need to be solved to gather, such as needing a key for a lock, or a saw to cut planks of wood, but the theme stays true throughout until the credits roll. You’ll scour scenes, sometimes having hidden object games to sift through, or solve standard puzzles before allowing to you to progress.

The hidden object games were the highlight for me, as you’re either given a word list of items to find in a cluttered scene, or given simple silhouettes that you need to find the corresponding items for. Sure you could spam the button and move the cursor around, finding them with no effort, but trying to do it with no errors and purposely is much more rewarding. There’s a handful of different puzzle types you’ll encounter, though none of them will stump you for too long. Actually, I found Lost Grimoires 2 substantially easier than most of their other titles, though if you become truly stumped, you can use a hint that’s on a recharge timer to solve any puzzle, should the need arise.

Unlike most of their other games, there’s no alternative way to play a puzzle. In some of the titles, if you weren’t proficient, you were able to play some other type of mini game, like dominoes or something similar instead, but that is not present here. The same goes with the epilogue that many of their past titles have after completing the campaign, yet that is absent here too, so I’m not sure why some of the titles get certain treatment, yet not others.

One of the puzzles you’ll be solving regularly is when it comes to conjuring your alchemy ingredients. Once you have all three specific items needed to craft a recipe, you’re whisked away to a small game that resembles something like Bejeweled. Here you need to match 3 or more of an identical symbol to make the needed counter reach zero. Once you’ve done so successfully, the potion is made and you can continue on your journey. This mini game needs to be played every time you craft a new potion, and it becomes increasingly difficult as you progress. Well, I wouldn’t say difficult, as you simply need to make more combinations before you ‘win’. Again, these are not challenging at all, and not once did I have to reference a walkthrough to complete the adventure.

When you manage to complete the game, you can play an Expert difficulty level, though the only thing this really changes is that you don’t get any hints of where to go and the recharge for your hint timer is much longer. So, while it’s welcome to have a slightly more challenging experience, I wish the puzzles were more involved, as a single playthrough will easily be doable in a single sitting.

Casual puzzle fans should enjoy Lost Grimoires 2, as it’s a title you can sit down with and enjoy in short bursts if needed, and it isn’t overly challenging. For experts in the genre, you may want to look elsewhere if you’re looking for puzzles that are going to stump you, though luckily playing the first game isn’t a prerequisite to enjoy this one. While this isn’t Artifex Mundi’s strongest title in the catalogue, Lost Grimoires 2 is a fun distraction for $10 if you’re looking to relax and try out your alchemy skills on a lazy weekend.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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